PHOTO: Gabriel Jimenez/Unsplash
Robin Hackett
September 18, 2020

Title: The Regenerative Grower’s Guide to Garden Amendments
Author: Nigel Palmer
Cover Price: $24.95
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

The Regenerative Grower’s Guide to Garden Amendments
Chelsea Green

If growing your own food isn’t quite DIY enough for you, “The Regenerative Grower’s Guide to Garden Amendments” is the book you’ve been waiting for. Within it, Nigel Palmer both makes a compelling case as to why making your own garden amendments should be an important part of gardening. He also provides detailed instructions for doing so.

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Buckle Up

The book is not for the faint of heart. It’s prone to detailed scientific explanations and spends time walking you through answers to questions like, “If 35 pounds of gypsum were added to 1 acre of land, how much calcium and sulfur are actually added in parts per million?”

But, if you’re willing to put in the work that the book requires, its rewards are substantial. Both the serious home gardener and the professional grower will come out the other side with more than enough knowledge to begin making their own garden amendments.

So, why consider making your own garden amendments at all? The well-known farm consultant John Kempf makes the case in the foreword. 

“We cannot,” he says, “have a sustainable agriculture as long as growers are dependent on importing mined or synthesized fertilizers.”

Throughout the book, Palmer returns to this point as well. How can we call our growing practices sustainable if they rely on extracting non-renewable resources? Homemade amendments, on the other hand, can be made from resources that already surround us. And they require hardly any transportation costs or fossil-fuel inputs.  


Read more: Check out these 8 great soil amendments for your garden.


Other Benefits

Palmer enumerates the other benefits of homemade amendments as well.

Beyond being sustainable, they can be custom-made to target the needs of a particular grower. Homemade amendments can also frequently be made from waste-products (like weeds or fish scraps) that would otherwise end up unused. 

Conventional fertilizers supply the plants with individual nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, etc.). But many of Palmer’s amendments aim to promote the biological health of the soil. As Palmer explains, “biological diversity facilitates the digestion of the soil constituents into compounds the plant and soil ecosystem can utilize.”

After making the case for home-made amendments , Palmer dedicates much of the rest of the book to detailed instructions and recipes. These sections feel almost cook-book like. They guide the reader through the process of making everything from apple cider vinegar (though not the kind you’d want to ingest) to fermented fish.

Here, the value of the book feels especially apparent. In its recipes “The Regenerative Grower’s Guide” offers clear instructions for transforming everyday waste products into valuable fertilizers.

For the dedicated grower, the book promises to open numerous doors into a deepened relationship with the process of growing one’s own food.

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